What it takes to build a shelter


Donna Callahan, Director of Anderson Humane Society, with elderly beagle Hope.


We found Handsome, an elderly Golden Retriever, in a small rural shelter in December 2013. He had been surrendered there and was listed as very thin and a little timid. “I am looking for someone to love me and to build my confidence again,” his profile read. “I am very loving and gentle. Please come meet me and give me a chance to show you who I am.”

He was thin alright, and weak. I rode with Handsome in the backseat for the two-hour drive home, his head resting on my lap, as my husband watched us through the rearview. “I don’t know,” he said. “Poor guy might not last six weeks.”

And yet, we knew what we were in for. The previous year we had adopted Annie—a 12 year-old Chocolate Lab surrendered by the family she had been with from puppyhood—because a woman named Debbie, a tireless, rescue volunteer made it her mission to find Annie a home, and eventually found us.

Annie had lived only eight months, but they were joyful and comfortable months, and we were ready to give Handsome the best of whatever time he had left as well. All thanks to dedicated people like Debbie, and small-town shelters.

Animal rescue groups, even those with recognizable names, do not spring up out of whole cloth. They are born of hard work. Donna Callahan, Director of Anderson County, Kentucky’s Humane Society, was just 20 years old in 1978 when a woman named Ann Garrison discovered the local warden kept the dogs he picked up in a barn, and once a week or so he either killed them or sold them to medical labs.

“Ann led a group of mostly women, and she was relentless,” Donna recalls. “She went to every court hearing demanding change. And while the court finally agreed to let me take over Animal Control, they could not pay me or provide me with a facility beyond a concrete pad with chainlink around it at the old sewer department.”

But this new “facility” was no more tenable than the old one. “That’s when I took over all but one stall in my father’s barn,” Donna says. “We built kennels for the dogs, letting the cats and kittens roam free inside, and when somebody donated a trailer load of food, my dad graciously let me take over his garage as well.”

Volunteers met every month at the library and raised money with events like bake sales on the courthouse lawn. And while Anderson County eventually founded a building in which to house Animal Control and hired a paid officer, there was still no place dedicated to finding permanent homes for the animals they brought in.

Donna and others soldiered on, working weekends and holidays, and after filing 501(c)(3) paperwork and receiving a small grant, they were finally able to erect a small building up the road from the Wild Turkey Distillery, the place we know today—40 years after Donna first took over her dad’s barn and garage—as the Anderson Humane Society.


Donna is 60 now, and while she would be the first to dismiss any credit, I think it is fair to say her life’s work has been taking care of the most vulnerable animals in this small, rural county, and with little money. Every dollar here is so very hard to come by.

I recently stopped by to see Donna following a weekend fundraiser, the annual rummage sale. She gave me a big hug, showed me a set of little pink dog sweaters a friend had dropped off, and introduced me to her latest arrival.

“This is Hope,” she said, her voice catching as she got down on the floor to cuddle with a gray-faced, elderly beagle no one had claimed after being picked up as a stray. “Older dogs, you can just see it in their faces, that look of ‘I’m not supposed to be here, I’m supposed to have a person.’ These are the ones who tug at me the most.”

They tug at me, too.

Handsome, the sweet old guy we did not think would last six weeks, is about to celebrate his fifth Christmas with us. He limps around a bit, but he is healthy, loves ice cubes, and begs for truck rides. We still have no idea how old he is, but no matter. It turns out he needed so very little: a family, an enzyme to sprinkle on his food, and Debbie, his angel on earth like Anderson County’s Donna Callahan.


Anderson Humane Society
1410 Versailles Road
Lawrenceburg, KY 40342
(502) 839-8339





It’s not about the Bible


Driving through the business district of our rural Kentucky town, you can’t miss this spray-painted message, proudly displayed on a bed sheet.


We moved to Lawrenceburg, Kentucky in 2015, the year the U.S. Supreme Court ruled same-sex marriage the law of the land and Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis, for religious reasons, she said, refused to issue marriage licenses to gay couples.

After three and a half years, First Christian Church here has become the first to allow its reverends to perform gay marriage ceremonies, while “Pastors at other area churches said they were aware of the decision and didn’t know of any other churches in Anderson County that currently perform gay marriages.”

We have more than 70 churches. Local businesses display reminders that this is a county of Christians: the Bible prominently placed in the magazine rack of the coffee shop, Christian radio playing while you’re getting a physical therapy treatment, t-shirts for sale with cute sayings like, “I love Jesus, but I drink a little.”

And yet, the pastor of Alton Baptist was quoted in an Oct. 17 article saying he believes only 15 percent of the county goes to church. Why? Could it be lack of inclusivity? Could it be that rigid, puritanic social stances have pushed people away?

Many will say hogwash. And many, as they did on the Anderson County News Facebook page, will point solely to the Bible:

“When you go to CHURCH that preaches out of the BIBLE Gods holy word. You will not find anywhere in the Bible it’s ok for homosexuality. Plain and simple.”

“Problem is ppl try to fix the Bible to fit the sin. It plainly says that not one word in the Bible is to be changed. He is the Alfa and the omega the beginning and the end. He says you will be punished and put to death for sin and you will. Homosexuality is a sin.”

“This is Crazy!! GOD and the Bible teaches not to do these things so why would a church say it’s ok!!”

“You can love the people but the Bible says a marriage is between a man and a woman. I believe the whole bible so are you believing only part of it?”

I am reminded of an episode of The West Wing in which a woman insists it is the Bible, not her personally, that condemns homosexuality. Fictional President Bartlet responds, in part: “I am interested in selling my youngest daughter, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7, what would a good price for her be? My chief of staff insists on working on the Sabbath, and Exodus 35:2 clearly says he should be put to death. Does the whole town really have to be together to stone my brother, John, for planting different crops side by side? Can I burn my mother in a small family gathering for wearing garments made from two different threads?”

For those holding up the Bible (and not simply their personal distaste) as justification for opposing same-sex marriage, are we still required to kill someone for working on the Sabbath, or have I missed something?

I often hear, “I don’t care what people do in private, I just don’t agree with gay marriage,” and so I refer you to faith columnist Gary Thompson’s Oct. 24 column in which he wrote, “The laws under the Constitution of the United States must not be abandoned simply because we don’t agree with them.” While Mr. Thompson was likely not referring to same-sex marriage, the rules still apply. Same-sex marriage is the law, and the law is the law whether you agree with it or not.

Here in Anderson County, we have a Bible in the coffee shop, Christian radio at physical therapy, and “I love Jesus” t-shirts, but only 15 percent of us attends church. Perhaps it is time to consider this Facebook message from one of your neighbors:

“Well it is 2018. The faith as a whole must evolve or face loss of their congregation. The way the Bible is interpreted has always and will continue to change, and the overwhelmingly consistent message of acceptance and love endures regardless. As human beings we must evolve on this topic. The fact that two people love each other enough to bind themselves before a God they still believe in when it’s purely an option, in the face of a still broad society of un-acceptance is reason enough to get on board.”

To First Christian, I say thank you for having the courage to lead.

To the more than 70 additional area churches, I ask, with so many folks today feeling afraid and alone, is the marriage of two people who love each other really such a burden?

Trump MIA as Commander in Chief


While there are many things in the Trump administration that defy credulity—his Twitter tantrums, his flailing against the press as the “enemy of the people,” his seeming inability to offer comfort in the wake of tragedies like the Tree of Life Synagogue or the California wildfires—his ongoing defamation of our military leaders and his snubs of the traditions for honoring our troops are nothing less than conduct unbecoming.

There is a famous Denzel Washington scene from the 1993 movie “Philadelphia,” a line of dialogue that best reflects my bewilderment at President Trump’s role as Commander in Chief. “Explain this to me,” Denzel says, rubbing his hands hard over his face, “like I’m a two year-old, because there is an element to this I just cannot get through my thick head.”

On Nov. 10, the president tweeted, “I am in Paris getting ready to celebrate the end of World War One. Is there anything better to celebrate than the end of a war, in particular that one, which was one of the bloodiest and worst of all time?” But then he skipped the celebration altogether, a last-minute no-show for his meticulously planned memorial visit to Aisne Marne American Cemetery, a short 50 mile drive from Paris.

The reason given? It was raining.

Upon his return to Washington D.C., the president then took a pass on paying his respects at Arlington National Cemetery on Veteran’s Day, a long-held presidential tradition.

The reason given? Too busy making phone calls.

The president has been in office almost two years, and while he has made plenty of boondoggles down to Mar a Lago and has visited his golf courses more than 150 times, he has yet to visit our troops deployed to war zones.

The reason given? “He does not want to associate himself with wars he views as failures.”

To paraphrase Denzel, could someone please explain all of this to me like I’m a two year-old? Because there is an element to this level of disrespect I just cannot get through my thick head.

And let’s not forget the troops deployed here at home.

In the days leading up to our Nov. 6 midterm elections, the president insisted a dangerous invasion threatened our southern border, that thousands of migrants who were both on foot and still more than a thousand miles away, posed an imminent threat. “Our military is being mobilized at the Southern Border,” he tweeted. “Many more troops coming. We will NOT let these Caravans, which are also made up of some very bad thugs and gang members, into the U.S. Our Border is sacred, must come in legally. TURN AROUND!”

He immediately deployed almost 6,000, active duty troops to the border. He warned that he might deploy up to 10,000! Fifteen-thousand if need be!

But a mere three weeks later, this caravan has all but disappeared from public view. Where did they go? What happened?

No credible explanation has been given, and “according to Army Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Buchanan, the commander of U.S. Army North, who is helming the operation from San Antonio, Texas, ‘Our end date right now is 15 December, and I’ve got no indications from anybody that we’ll go beyond that.’”

In a recent interview with Chris Wallace of FOX News, the president took umbrage, inexplicably defaming Adm. William McRaven, the commander of Seal Team 6 who served honorably for 37 years, accusing him of being a partisan hack and musing offhandedly, “Wouldn’t it have been nice if we got Osama bin Laden a lot sooner than that, wouldn’t it have been nice?”

These are the president’s own words, his actions, and they defy decency.

We often hear the president’s loyalists insist he is doing a fine job, that the poor man receives too little credit and too much criticism, and that, above all, they did not vote for a saint, a minister, or a moralist to serve in the Oval Office.

What about Commander in Chief? Did they vote for one of those? Maybe they could explain it to me like a two year-old, because by his own actions, the president as the leader of our great military is woefully missing in action.

Crazy socialists!


November 14, 2018

I am in the checkout line at the Lawrenceburg Kroger when the couple in front of me stalls to chat with the cashier. “You know I’d have done quit already if I could,” the wife says, sliding her credit card. “But he’s the one I’m worried about.”

She nods her husband’s way, but he shrugs her off. “Between the shoulder he fell on last winter, his knees, and the neck thing, I mean, he’s still got 12 years to Medicare, and I got 14. I pray to the good Lord we make it and that we can both still walk when we do.”

I take in every word because I have just read a Facebook post from an old friend. This friend lives in France half the year, and she’s posted a story about how, after a long flight from Minneapolis to Nice, her husband collapsed coming out of the shower. So she did what she does in France. She called her doctor and he came right over, helped her get her husband into bed, figured out he was just badly dehydrated, got an IV going, and left.

No ambulance. No ER. No panic. The cost? Nothing.

This is what socialized medicine looks like in real life. Not the scary ads politicians like Andy Barr bombard you with on TV, not two years to get a simple surgery, and not long lines in a clinic. Well-run, socialized medicine looks like my friend’s story: a doctor who does all the basics for one small area of town and gets to know his patients as both caregiver and friend, all paid for by the government through taxes.

This August, I went to my 35 year high school reunion. The day of our big shindig, we got bad news. One of our classmates, a sweetheart of a man who’s been fighting cancer for a few years, was being moved to hospice, and this not only cast a pall over the night, it sparked a lot conversation over beers and loud music about illness, aging, and healthcare.

A teacher with a chronic illness: I’d retire tomorrow, she told me, but who can afford private insurance? Plus, I don’t trust that pre-existing conditions will always be covered, and I am still years from my pension. I have a family. I can’t take that risk.

A long-haul trucker from a large family: My wife and I are moving to North Dakota, he said. She’s been sick a lot, so she needs me to be home more, and I can get a driving gig up there with good insurance and where I’m home most nights. But how do I leave here, how do I leave my family?

I could go on, but you get the point. Like the woman in line at Kroger, we are all throwing the Medicare dice. Good Lord in Heaven, we should or could retire … but healthcare: 65 or bust!

I am a Democrat, so I have spent a lot of time the last six months talking about healthcare (Amy McGrath’s plan included a Medicare buy-in at age 55) which means I have spent a lot of time hearing the word “socialist” screamed my way.

For the record, I am not a socialist. I believe in the free market economy. But I also believe that our workforce would be a whole lot more productive with accessible, affordable, you-can’t-ever-take-this-away-from-me medical care.

Imagine if my teacher friend could simply retire because she’s done teaching, opening that job for a new teacher who really wants to be there for our kids.

Imagine if my truck driver friend, a nice man with a decent savings, could stop driving altogether to stay home and with his sick wife instead of having to move to another state, far from his family, to work for healthcare coverage?

I know you’re skeptical, so I encourage you to Google a 2008 NPR story titled, “Healthcare Lessons from France” to learn more about what good, nationalized healthcare looks like.

And ask yourself this: if socialized medicine is so evil, why are you so desperately praying to reach age 65 so you can sign up for Medicare, the American version of socialized medicine?

My friend’s France story continued into the next day. She was taking her morning walk around the neighborhood when she ran into her doctor coming out of someone else’s house. How’s Ronnie? he wanted to know. And as they talked, she said she’d forgotten one of her medications back in Minneapolis. No problem, the doctor said, and pulled out his prescription pad and wrote the prescription for her, right there in someone else’s driveway.

Crazy socialists. Who in their right mind would want healthcare like that?

Midnight in America

When we were little, Daddy and our uncles would hide outside our bedroom windows at night to scare us. If we’d been bad—sassed back, refused to eat our peas, protested bedtime—we could expect the boogeyman. The boogeyman was how they got us to behave.

My fear of the boogeyman lasted, embarrassingly, into my 20s. I remained afraid of the dark and of what lurked beyond nighttime windows. I knew this was irrational. But irrational fear is still fear.

In the weeks before the midterms, the president and his allies employed a boogeyman scenario: a caravan of Honduran migrants was marching like an army toward our southern border; thousands of aggressive, marauding criminals bringing both murderous intent and diseases of Biblical proportion. Small pox! Leprosy! Middle-Eastern terrorists hiding amongst the women and children!

And at numerous rallies endorsing Republican candidates, including Kentucky’s Andy Barr, the president declared that a vote for the candidate was a vote for him personally, a vote for security and safety.

On Oct. 27 in Murphysboro, Illinois—the same day congregants of the Tree of Life Synagogue were gunned down, and following a week of pipe-bombs mailed to prominent Democrats—the president repeated the falsehood that Democrats want to abolish U.S. borders. Vote for me if you want to be safe! And “of the dozen people interviewed at Mr. Trump’s rally, almost all of them spoke in considerable detail about their concerns over immigration. Ms. Hooten, the Trump supporter at the rally on Saturday, blamed Mr. Soros [a prominent Jewish benefactor], Hillary Clinton and former President Barack Obama for the caravan. ‘I think they’re all involved in this,’ she said. ‘I feel it’s treason.’”

Reporters told a different story about the caravan, filing photo after photo of crying, bedraggled children and stories of exhausted men and mothers, but no matter. The president continued flogging his fear narrative in the days before the big election, inexplicably dispatching 5,200 troops to the border for a caravan of refugees still a thousand miles away and on foot. “This is an invasion of our Country and our Military is waiting for you!” he tweeted.

Then came election day and warnings about the caravan miraculously disappeared. No more tweets. No more warnings of invasion. No more terrifying, presidential pronouncements. No more FOX news alerts. Just like that.

In 1984, President Reagan declared that it was morning again in America, but President Trump seems hellbent on an American midnight. Dangerous, dark people are invading this country, he reminds us every chance he gets, and you’d better stick with me, your White Knight, the only one you can trust to keep you and your loved ones safe.

In Bob Woodward’s book “Fear,” he quotes then-candidate Trump from a March 31, 2016 interview. “Real power is, I don’t even want to use the word, fear.” And as we have learned, he wields that power with abandon.

When the president held his post-midterm election press conference, he mocked every Republican candidate who had not welcomed his embrace on the campaign trail. The message? Fear me, I can hurt you.

When questioned about his phony, caravan campaign tactic, the president bristled, declaring the reporter asking the question an “enemy of the people” and later, in a unprecedented act of retribution on the free press, stripped that reporter’s White House credentials.

When I look back now, I can see where my young daddy and uncles were coming from. They used what they knew how to use, scaring us and calling us names like “sissy” or “big baby” because that’s all they knew, and they were overwhelmed at having a houseful of children and no idea how to control us.

Sadly, and I would argue dangerously, this president is equally overwhelmed and ill-equipped. He lies, scares, and threatens because has no other tools in his toolbox. Like my daddy and my uncles, the president uses the one tactic he knows—fear—to maintain a sense of control.

On a recent trip to Missouri to visit my Trump-trusting parents, I was greeted with Dad showing me his iPad. “Have you seen this? The Muslims are going around to all the Walmarts in this area and buying up burner phones! They’re planning something.”

You might call my dad’s fear irrational, but it is still fear, and I blame the president for gleefully stoking it.

It is midnight in America, and I am not a kid anymore. I know enough to be afraid.

Fear and Loathing while living in Trump Country


Norman Rockwell


I am arranging trays of food on a table when the man appears. “You with the Democrat women?” he says. “I’m going to be flat honest. You know who’s going to fix all this? Not you. The man upstairs, that’s who.”

It is 5:30 p.m. on a Monday. I am expecting 40, maybe 50 women for tonight’s meeting of the Democratic Woman’s Club of Anderson County, but for now this stranger, this man and me, are alone in the cafeteria of a Senior Citizen’s Center, a space cheerfully decorated for fall with crepe-paper pumpkins.

“You ask me,” the man says, “we got to get rid of all the Mexicans and all the blacks—you know that other thing we call ‘em, the blacks—we got to get every last one of ‘em out of this country, that’s what we got to do.”

I note that warnings about the caravan, the one the president keeps tweeting about, has been all over the news. “Sadly, it looks like Mexico’s Police and Military are unable to stop the Caravan heading to the Southern Border of the United States. Criminals and unknown Middle Easterners are mixed in. I have alerted Border Patrol and Military that this is a National Emergy. Must change laws!” the president warned.

My heart pounds in triple-time. “Sir,” I say, holding my hand up. “I’m going to stop you right there. You were just talking about the man upstairs, but what you’re saying is decidedly not Christian, it is not the way I was raised, and you are wrong.”

He laughs. “Making America great again,” he practically sings, and then, turning to leave, adds, “We’ll be playing cards next door, so you let us know if you girls have leftovers.”

I often see national news stories about Trump country; stories where an east coast news organization sends out a journalist to take the pulse of Trump voters. Do you feel marginalized, they ask with equanimity. What do you like about the president? What do you wish he would do differently? Will you vote for him again?

But what I do not see, in these national reports, is the reality of living in Trump country.

Why do we hold our Democratic Woman’s Club meetings in the Senior Citizen’s Center? Because local establishments are afraid to be associated with Democrats, lest it destroy their business.

Mornings, I drive 20 miles roundtrip to walk my dogs on the County Park trail, because the trail right up the road involves parking my car by houses with Confederate flags out front, and I have an Amy McGrath bumper sticker on my car.

A friend stops to get his morning coffee at the Dairy Queen, and a group of men openly heckle him. “You voting for that woman?” they jeer. “I guess we’ll have to start peeing sitting down!”

In our Oct. 24 county newspaper, under a banner that reads “Before pulling the lever, ask if your vote honors God,” the faith columnist writes, in part, “Since I am not a preacher, I hope that I can take some liberty with pointing out some facts.” And then, “Killing an infant in it’s mother’s womb is not choice, it’s called murder.”

One neighbor disinvites another neighbor from Thanksgiving dinner for fear that having someone who finds Trump’s rallies cult-like and scary at the table will ruin an otherwise Norman Rockwell-esque meal.

A man in town tells me he is afraid to travel to Nevada for a sporting event with his teenaged son because of gangs and MS-13.

This is Trump’s America, which often feels like some twisted version of The Stepford Wives, where everyone is seemingly going about their business—church on Sunday, high school football games, Halloween costume contests, and parades down Main Street—while the president tweets about the caravan, MS-13, #FakeNews, and the left-wing mob: The coming apocalypse.

If the definition of “terrorize” is to create and maintain a state of extreme fear and distress, the President of the United States, with his fear-mongering rallies, tweets, and rhetoric, is terrorizing—yes, I said terrorizing—the very small-town America he purports to love.

And all due respect, but sending journalists who work for newspapers like the New York Times and The Washington Post to find out what Trump’s base thinks is the difference between me visiting my Trump-loving dad alone or bringing my husband.

With husband in tow, Dad is on his best behavior, the behavior he reserves for outsiders, because even after 22 years of marriage my husband is an outsider. “How do you like retirement?” he asks. “Can you believe this weather?”

Contrast with the last time I visited my dad alone: The first thing he said when I walked in the door was, “Have you seen Facebook? The Muslims are going to all the local Walmarts around here and buying up burner phones!”

At our Woman’s Club meeting, we say the Pledge of Allegiance, and we discuss what we can do to help with the upcoming midterm elections.

As we adjourn — and as I get ready to deliver our leftovers to the card game going on next door — our Vice President, a Mexican immigrant, raises her hand to quiet us. “Could you all please say a prayer for my family?” she says, voice breaking. “My brother is being to deployed to Afghanistan next week to clear bombs. He’s going to clear bombs for a country who hates us.”

Pushing past the patriarchy


The Art Minnow, by Polish painter Robert Bubel


My 27 year-old daughter and I are sitting at a nice bar, having a glass of wine. It is mother-daughter weekend, we’ve been Christmas shopping all day, and we have chosen this quiet, mostly-empty pub near our hotel to get off our feet before deciding what to do about dinner.

A long stretch of thickly-glossed bar fans out on either side of us, unoccupied, and yet a man sidles right up, leans his large body between us, and yells for the bartender. “Hey buddy, can I get a vodka and soda down here?” Then he turns to my daughter and asks her name. “I’m sorry,” she says politely, inching her barstool closer to mine. “Could you excuse us? I’m talking to my mom.”

But the man trains his gaze on her, touches her shoulder, and makes a face like she’s hurt his feelings. “Can’t a guy by a girl a drink?”

This is what it’s like to be a woman in the world. Apologizing to men we don’t know for affronts we have not committed.

I was worried about Dr. Christine Blasey Ford testifying before the Senate Judiciary. I was worried because I knew what would come next. Something maybe happened to the poor lady, but gosh, Judge Kavanaugh says it wasn’t him, and they were in high school for crying out loud, so even if it happened like she said, it was probably just a big misunderstanding. I mean, he doesn’t even remember knowing her, boys will be boys and all that, horsing around. Couldn’t she take a joke? Nothing that bad happened.

I consider what “nothing that bad happened” means. The many nights I had to drive drunk businessmen—married men, churchgoing men—back to their hotels while both shoving their hands off me and trying not to make them angry? The friend’s husband who always hugs me while he’s sitting down so he can press his face into my breasts, then laughs and tells me to lighten up? The stranger at the bar who touched my daughter, feigned offense, and refused to leave?

Boys will be boys, and the old boys club is alive and bitter. Last week, the president shamed a female reporter on the Whiter House lawn, “That’s okay, I know you’re not thinking, you never do.” Senator Chuck Grassley, when asked why there are no women on the GOP side of the Senate Judiciary, replied, “It’s a lot of work, maybe they don’t want to do it.” And Senator Joe Manchin said, “I have reservations about this vote given the serious accusations against Judge Kavanaugh and the temperament he displayed in the hearing,” but voted for him anyway.

I was 26, my daughter’s age, when Anita Hill testified, and I specifically remember a group of men friends laughing at her testimony about the pubic hair on a Coca Cola can. What a great prank!

Days before the final vote on Kavanaugh, “as hundreds of supporters cheered, Trump delivered a crude imitation of Ford from her testimony, in which she vividly described a violent sexual assault.” This, after Dr. Ford had testified, “Indelible in the hippocampus is the laughter. The uproarious laughter between the two. They’re having fun at my expense.”

The president is coming to Kentucky this week, and I suspect women and Dr. Ford will be atop his hit list for cheap laughs. What kind of citizen, what kind of Christian, attends a rally where they know they will be called upon to cheer, to mock, another human being’s pain? Is this how, in the words of WKYT, we “stand for Kentucky”?

The day before Senator Susan Collins took the Senate floor to lecture us about what a good man Brett Kavanaugh is and how he deserves a seat on the Supreme Court, I stopped at the grocery store on my way to a meeting. I was running late, in a hurry. A man approached. “Is it Spring?” the man said with a big grin. “Because you are so pretty it must be spring.” And then he stood there blocking my path, waiting, like for a thank you—can’t a guy give a girl a compliment anymore?—and honest to God I wanted to run him over with my cart.

I did not run him over with my cart. But I also did not smile nor give him the thank you he waited for. I did not, for once, stuff down my own discomfort to make a man I do not know feel good about himself. I simply pushed past him. Progress.